Determining whether a driver is under the influence of marijuana is challenging. The standardized field sobriety tests used to predict alcohol levels are ineffective for marijuana intoxication. Levels of THC and its metabolites in blood and urine are not closely correlated with marijuana intoxication. So, how can law enforcement determine when THC is impairing a person’s ability to drive? Researchers are working on brain imaging technology which may offer a more reliable method for identifying impairment from marijuana intoxication.
When people think of a DUI charge (called ‘OVI’ in Ohio), most think of drunk driving. This is where the bulk of the money and effort have been concentrated to raise awareness: think of the “Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving” or “Over the Limit, Under Arrest” advertising campaigns. However, with more states legalizing marijuana for medical and recreational use, more people are finding themselves charged with OVI stemming from alleged marijuana impairment. This is a trend we have been following for some time. For people charged with a Marijuana OVI, a frequent question is: How long is THC detectable in your system?
We’ve used this space in the past to discuss how the nationwide trend in marijuana legalization has impacted the enforcement of DUI laws (called ‘OVI in Ohio’). After last week’s election, 37 states plus Washington D.C. have now legalized marijuana in some fashion. While recreational use of marijuana has been decriminalized (but not legalized) in Ohio, medical marijuana has been legal here since 2016. What does this mean for marijuana DUI charges? Could changes to Ohio’s OVI laws be on the horizon?
Most states now have some form of legalized marijuana. Thirty-four states (as well as D.C., Guam and Puerto Rico) have medical marijuana programs, and ten states permit recreational marijuana use. The states with recreational marijuana have questioned whether marijuana legalization results in more traffic accidents. According to a recent article in the USA Today, the answer seems to be ‘no’. Nevertheless, Ohio aggressively enforces a flawed marijuana DUI law (called ‘OVI’ in Ohio).
As of January 1, 2020, 11 states and Washington D.C. have legalized recreational marijuana use. That number increases to 33 states when you include medical legalization. Several studies have been conducted to determine what effect this ever-growing legal access to marijuana has had on traffic and DUI/OVI statistics. While more data will be needed to ultimately determine the true effect of legalization, these studies indicate there has been an impact.
The ever-growing number of states which have legalized either medical marijuana or recreational marijuana has created a number of issues for law enforcement and the justice system. Chief among those issues is the challenge of enforcing laws against operating a vehicle under the influence of marijuana. In an effort to overcome this challenge, the Norwegian company Drauger developed the DrugTest 5000. This system uses a mouth swab, taken roadside, to help determine if a driver is under the influence of marijuana or other drugs. The DrugTest 5000 has been in use in Norway since 2015 and has seen growing use in the United States. This test, however, is probably not the solution for law enforcement’s problems.